15 Indicted In Alleged Multimillion Heroin Distribution Ring

(Photo courtesy of the NJ Attorney General's Office)

(Photo courtesy of the NJ Attorney General’s Office)

TRENTON – A state grand jury has indicted the alleged ringleader and 14 other defendants on charges including first-degree racketeering for allegedly running a narcotics supply ring that distributed millions of dollars in heroin out of a number of heroin processing “mills” and stash houses in Paterson, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today.

The indictment stems from “Operation Dismayed,” an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Division, conducted with assistance from the New Jersey State Police and the DEA New Jersey Division. The agencies arrested most of the defendants in November.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 22-count state grand jury indictment on Friday, July 12, charging all 15 defendants with first-degree racketeering and second-degree conspiracy to maintain heroin production facilities and distribute heroin. The alleged ringleader, Segundo Garcia, 37, of Prospect Park, aka “Moreno,” is charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of life in prison, including 25 years without parole.

Wilfredo “Willie” Morel, 40, of Paterson, aka “Christino Morel,” allegedly worked with Garcia to obtain large quantities of heroin and exercised independent leadership control over certain members of the ring. Garcia, Morel and nine other defendants also face first-degree drug charges. The first-degree racketeering and drug charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

It is alleged that the drug network supplied multiple kilos of heroin per week to other suppliers and large-scale dealers. The defendants generally did not sell to street-level dealers. The ring allegedly distributed heroin to dealers in northern New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. During the takedown of the ring in November, detectives searched 10 houses and one vehicle, seizing three kilos of bulk heroin, another kilo of heroin packaged in thousands of glassine envelopes for individual sale, and about $255,000 in cash. The bulk heroin has a “wholesale” value of more than $300,000, and could have sold for $1 million or more once cut and packaged for sale on the street.

“We’re facing an epidemic of heroin abuse, driven by young people seeking a cheaper alternative to OxyContin and the other opiate pain pills that have become the primary gateway drugs in New Jersey’s suburbs,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “We allege that these defendants were cashing in on this deadly epidemic as major suppliers of heroin. We’re attacking this problem at its source through operations such as this one to take down heroin mills, as well as ongoing investigations into the diversion of prescription painkillers.”

“We allege that Garcia, Morel and their associates typically moved about 2 kilograms of raw heroin per week, making this a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Working with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, the DEA and the State Police, we have dismantled this criminal network and built a first-degree racketeering case against them.”

Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice by Detective Travis Johnson, who was the lead detective, and other members of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Lt. Christopher Donohue, Sgt. Ho Chul Shin, Deputy Attorney General Taggart and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis, who is Deputy Bureau Chief. The investigation was conducted for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office by its Narcotics Enforcement Bureau, with assistance from other member of the Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was conducted for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration by DEA Group D-32 with assistance from members of DEA Division 30 and DEA Newark Division. The New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section provided valuable assistance in the investigation.

During the takedown in November, investigators seized 1.5 kilos of heroin, a kilo of cocaine, and packaging materials and equipment from an alleged heroin mill located on the first floor of 447 East 21st Street in Paterson. They seized an additional 1.5 kilos of heroin and $220,000 in cash from a second mill located on the first floor of 246 Maryland Avenue in Paterson. Workers clad in aprons and surgical masks allegedly worked at these and other locations to cut, process and package heroin for the network. More than $35,000 in additional cash was seized from other locations that were searched.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations; they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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